As a boy, Anthony Pio Costa II, whose parents came from St. Arsenio, a small town south of Salerno, Italy, sold papers in front of Thomas Edison's factory in Orange, New Jersey, to help support the family.
After serving in World War II, he started in northern New Jersey and Manhattan as a paving contractor. Always looking for new ideas, he was innovative in the use of granite curbing in residential developments. It wasn't long before people referred to him as "The Belgian Block King."
Successful as an entrepreneur, Anthony began to purchase and improve vacant parcels in West Essex. He acquired the site that is now the Junction at the intersection of Route 46 and Bloomfield Avenue in Fairfield, in 1960. He envisioned the tract of land as a retail shopping center. The original idea, however, was ahead of its time, and The Junction became a well established commercial park with a wide variety of uses.
Tony, as his friends referred to him, was a colorful personality and a man of many ideas and ventures. Besides business pursuits such as land development, contracting, road and heavy construction, Tony in 1958 founded the Big Top Theatre. The theatre-in-the-round occupied 10 acres adjacent to The Junction (Currently the site of a brand new Home Depot).Within a few years, Tony switched gears and converted the Big Top Theatre to "The Melody Top Jazz-in-the-Woods." The Melody Top attracted a good deal of publicity in the early '60s, because top names like George Shearing, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Ahmad Jamal and Carmen MacRae performed there.
In 1974, Anthony Pio Costa died. His wife and children assumed control of the family business. The elder Pio Costa had often spoken of acquiring a law degree, but this dream eluded him. (He attended law school for two years.) In his honor, his family contributed to the construction of a library for the town of Fairfield and dedicated the Anthony Pio Costa Memorial Library in 1985.
Today, son Anthony believes the time is right to return to his father's original theme for The Junction. Plans include the retrofitting of the complex in order to render The Junction a viable manufacturers' outlet, while blending current diversified usage of the property with the exciting new concept.